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Celera and Aurora enter collaboration for use of cardiovascular services

Friday, August 07, 2009

Aurora physicians have access to novel genetic testing to better identify and treat heart disease

Milwaukee, Wis., and Alameda, Calif. -- Aurora Health Care, Wisconsin’s largest health care provider, and Celera Corporation (NASDAQ:CRA), a health care company focused on genetics, announced today that they have entered into an agreement to collaborate on the integration of genetic testing aimed at optimizing heart care for Aurora patients.

As a result of activities under the agreement, Aurora is the first health care provider in Wisconsin and one of the first in the nation to offer patients a test for a variant in a gene called KIF6, which studies have shown indicates a significantly increased risk for heart disease.

Studies have shown that carriers of the KIF6 gene variant make up about 60 percent of researched populations and that untreated KIF6 carriers have a 50 to 55 percent greater risk for heart attacks1-4.

Despite the risk factor, research also has shown that carriers respond very well to certain statins1,2, a medication used to reduce cholesterol levels. The use of genetic testing is expected to help Aurora physicians identify those patients who are most at risk and to select optimal treatments for them earlier, before a heart attack occurs.

This testing, which will be Aurora’s first use of genetic testing in cardiovascular care, is expected to start with patients of Aurora Cardiovascular Services and to be useful for primary care physicians as well. A simple swab of the inside of a patient’s cheek will provide the DNA sample needed for the test.

Aurora and Celera also have agreed to explore research areas of mutual interest to validate additional genetic markers for cardiovascular disease risk and treatment.

“We’re delighted to be working with Celera, which decoded the human genome, to incorporate genetic testing that will allow our physicians to more readily identify patients who are at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease and to determine the most appropriate form of treatment,” said Masood Akhtar, M.D., president of Aurora Cardiovascular Services. "We view this collaboration as an ideal matching of science and medicine that can greatly benefit our patients.”

“We’re pleased to collaborate with Aurora as one of the largest and most technologically advanced health care providers,” said Kathy Ordoñez, chief executive officer of Celera. "We believe Aurora is the ideal partner to serve as the first Center of Excellence for Cardiovascular Genetics, as it has a commitment to best practices in cardiovascular treatment by incorporating the latest technology to improve patient care.”

Traditional cardiovascular assessment programs identify only a portion of individuals at risk for heart attacks. A number of factors are considered, such as family history, smoking, obesity, and cholesterol levels. Yet many people with normal or low cholesterol levels still have heart attacks. Genetic testing can help to take the guesswork out of diagnosis. And, when a patient is identified as a KIF6 carrier, it may provide an impetus to get his or her family to undergo genetic testing, which needs to be done only once in a lifetime.

Studies also show that a very high percentage of patients prescribed with statins do not stay on the drug5. Genetic testing to reveal carrier status is expected to help physicians educate patients about their risk and their need to continue taking appropriate medication.

“We believe this collaboration can help Aurora to fill the promise of personalized medicine for their physicians and their patients,” said H. Robert Superko, M.D., vice president, chief of medical affairs at Celera. “Studies have shown that genetic tests can reveal a substantial risk for heart disease independent of traditional heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Moreover, these tests can also identify patients who benefit the most from common heart disease treatments.”

About Aurora Health Care

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers services at 13 hospitals and more than 100 clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin. Aurora is affiliated with more than 3,400 physicians, including about 1,250 who are employed by the health care system.

About Celera

Celera is a healthcare business delivering personalized disease management through a combination of products and services incorporating proprietary discoveries. Berkeley HeartLab, a subsidiary of Celera, offers services to predict cardiovascular disease risk and improve patient management. Celera also commercializes a wide range of molecular diagnostic products through Abbott and has licensed other relevant diagnostic technologies developed to provide personalized disease management in cancer and liver diseases. Information about Celera Corporation, including reports and other information filed by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is available at http://www.celera.com.

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Contact: Linda Steiner
Phone: 414-647-3348

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